13th Conference on Applied Climatology and the 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology

Monday, 13 May 2002: 5:00 PM
Recent developments in an atmospheric decision aid to better characterize optical turbulence and high clouds
Randy J. Lefevre, U.S. Air Force, Kirtland AFB, NM
The Airborne Laser (ABL) weapon system, a multi-megawatt chemical oxygen iodine laser integrated onto a Boeing 747-400, will be an integral component of our nations Ballistic Missile Defense System. The concept of operations for the ABL will be to loiter above the clouds to detect, acquire, engage, attack and destroy ballistic missiles during their boost phase. The atmospheric path of directed energy between the ABL and the missile would be characterized by varying degrees of optical turbulence and ice crystals associated with high clouds. The ABL System Program Office is managing the development of an Atmospheric Decision Aid (ADA) to diagnose and forecast the location and magnitude of optical turbulence and clouds in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. The ABL, as well as other future directed energy weapon systems, will be evaluated at several CONUS test ranges. The ABL tests will require accurate spatial and temporal information about current and future optical turbulence and high clouds. The initial results of several ADA validation and verification campaigns from Vandenberg AFB, California will be presented along with a brief overview about how the ADA will enhance the effectiveness of Air Force operations. The validation and verification campaigns include comparison of ADA information with traditional thermosonde balloon measurements and new atmospheric profiler radar information.

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